Arkansas Valley: Sugar beets were once an economic driver

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Here’s the fourth article in Chris Woodka’s series “Taming the Land” running in the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

“Since beets grown in the Arkansas Valley had the highest sugar content of any in the world, it was enthusiastically predicted that just as Cripple Creek had been noted the world over for its gold production, the valley would become celebrated for its unexcelled adaptability to sugar beets,” wrote Dena Markoff in a 1978 article about the National Beet Sugar Co., later the National Sugar Manufacturing Co., at Sugar City. National moved in at a time when Colorado Canal backers were trying to find homesteaders for 80-acre tracts in Crowley County. The company and the canal would be intricately linked in water matters and economics. The Sugar City mill opened in 1900, with a work force housed largely in tents for the first “campaign” – a non-stop operation of about three months that turned stacks of sugar beets into refined sugar.

A writer for the Irrigation Era, a Denver farm trade newspaper, wrote in 1901: “Big dirty beets are dumped in at one end of the factory, and quantities of beautifully white glistening sugar are poured out at the other.”

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